We have been talking about conforming to this world and the traps we Christians fall into. Doubting God is the last on our list and should probably be the first for without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
What exactly is doubt and if you are a believer, how is it in your heart?
By definition, doubt is “a feeling of uncertainty”.
Raise your hand if you’ve felt uncertain. Now, raise your hand if you’ve felt uncertain while praying.
If you are nodding your head like I am, you know doubt resides in your heart. It’s that hesitation, that “hopefully everything will work out ok”, that queasy feeling in your middle when you are about to do something you are not sure of.
Why do we struggle with doubt? Because we have not surrendered our hearts fully to Christ and are still living in the world.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2 NKJV)
I believe the root of the problem is our inability to see beyond what is in front of us. We need to learn to walk by faith and not by sight.
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:6-7)
Is it Normal to Doubt God?
Is it normal to doubt God? Yes. Is it right? No.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Let’s talk about some of our heros of faith in scripture.
Moses, the man who turned the Nile to blood, stood before the great pharoah, called to be the deliverer of God’s people, did not immediately jump at the chance to go talk to Pharoah. He had several excuses aka doubts!
“Who am I that I should go to Pharoah?”
“Suppose they do not believe me or listen to me.”
“I am not eloquent… but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue”.
“Lord, please send someone else!”
I would like to point out that after this last plea, scripture tells us that God’s anger was kindled. God is patient and loving and longsuffering, but He always requires obedience and if your doubt is keeping you from obedience, He will not be pleased.
What do you think of when you hear Elijah? This is the man who proclaimed a 2 year drought, he was hidden and fed by God during the evil reign of Ahab and Jezebel.
Elijah gathers the people together and challenges the prophets of Baal. Seriously, talk about guts. God’s power and authority is seen by all as fire falls from heaven in a triumphant display of the Almighty Yahweh. This amazing climax sends thousands to their knees in repentance.
Jezebel is furious and seeks Elijah’s life. Elijah flees and even after the impressive display of faith, he doubts.
Elijah travels forty days to Mount Horeb and takes residence in a cave. God calls to him and asks him why he is there.
So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (1 Kings 19:10)
God does not swoop in immediately and calm Elijah’s fears. He first sends a violent wind, an earthquake, and a fire. Elijah remains hidden in his cave, knowing that these are not God’s voice.
Then God speaks to him in a still small voice and Elijah responds with the same fears he has already confessed.
Only then does God tell him that 7,000 faithful Israelites have not bowed to Baal. He also instructs Elijah to anoint the next king and a phrophet to take his place.
The moral of the story? Oftentimes we look for God to work in our lives in a big way. We look for strong proof of who He is and His will for our lives and yet He is speaking in a much quieter voice, waiting for you to tune in and obey.
John the Baptist
John the Baptist, the prophecied forerunner of the Messiah, who declared Jesus as the lamb of God had a moment of doubt when locked up in prison. He sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the one or should they be looking for another.
Jesus did not give him a direct answer.
He replies, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5)
Is Doubt a Sin?
Is doubt a sin? If we are are questioning who God is or taking lightly the promises he lays out for us, then yes, doubt is a sin.
Where are you at my friend? Have you stood confident on the promises of God or do you remain fearful, questioning, doubting?
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be that wave driven and tossed by the wind. I want to stand firm, planted by my God and savior, reaching for the light and growing in strength and confidence.
What the Bible Says about Fear and Doubt
There are dozens of verses about fear and we have already covered that in our study so I’m just going to put two of my favorites here.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
Bible Verses about Doubt
We can overcome doubt by studying the words of Jesus, believing them, and standing on God’s promises.
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:22-24)
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:36-39)
And what about he story of “doubting Thomas”? Funny how we have dubbed him that when we all struggle with doubt.
Thomas had not been with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them the first time after his resurrection. He thought the disciples report was crazy and he didn’t believe them. Jesus appears to the disciples a second time and speaks directly to Thomas.
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
We all know we are living in uncertain times. It makes us feel anxious, restless, and maybe a little desperate. My One Comfort has a great post full of verses for when the uncertain times bring on doubt.
How Doubting God is Ruining Your Faith
I can relate to this story of Peter. I think many of us can as we ebb and flow on emotion. Have you ever started out convinced of God’s promises and yet the enthusiasm fades and the stark reality of life sets in?
Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying,“Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased (Matthew 14:25-31)
I can’t tell you how many times I am full of faith and confidence and then I take my eyes off of Christ, doubt, and sink. I feel as if I have gone through this multiple times in different scenerios and still haven’t walked all the way to Jesus on that water!
Are you doubting God? What verses help you during your moments of doubt? I’d love for you to share in the comments below!
Be sure to check out the rest of this series!